Following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement yesterday of California Secretary of State Alex Padilla as VP-elect Kamala Harris’s replacement in the US Senate, many eyes were on Newsom’s next decision: Who would he nominate to replace Padilla?
Some if not many thought it could be local San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, already announced as a Secretary of State candidate in 2022.
Instead, Newsom opted for another local, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber.
The late afternoon was filled with politicos trying to figure out what statement they should send to the press first, a congratulations for Weber, or a strong reaction to the Donald Trump pardon of former Congressman Duncan D. Hunter.
Not completely lost in the Harris-to-Padilla-to-Weber and Hunter craziness, were less noticeable but very busy eyeballs, all looking at the prospects for a special election to succeed Weber in the 79th Assembly District seat.
The 79th AD includes portions of San Diego, Chula Vista, and National City and all of Lemon Grove and La Mesa.
It’s a strongly Democratic area, with party registration of nearly 45 percent Dem, 22 percent Republican, and 27 percent no party preference.
The assumption is that potential candidates living in the 79th would automatically be considered as prospects.
But, in a special election, with no other contests taking place and nowhere to run, so to speak, other names will be floated, especially those who recently ran and lost in other big races.
Quick to the tongue last night were Democrats Ammar Campa-Najjar and Georgette Gómez, both having lost respective high-profile, open seat Congressional races in November.
But the bench is deep. Some other names:
- La Mesa Councilmember Akilah Weber, who has the same last name as Assemblywoman Weber. After all, Akilah is her daughter and could be assumed to have mom’s support if she wants it.
- La Mesa Councilmember Colin Parent
- Lemon Grove Mayor Racquel Vasquez
- Lemon Grove Councilmember George Gastil
- Some Dem Chula Vista and National City councilmembers may live in the 79th Assembly seat portions of their cities as well.
No Republican would typically compete in a strongly partisan district like this. However, watch for GOPers to argue that chances are bolstered if one Republican can vie in a special election contest against a large cadre of Democrats.
- Chula Vista Councilmember John McCann.
- La Mesa Councilmember Bill Baber
- Lemon Grove Councilmember Jerry Jones
- Newly-retired San Diego Councilmember Scott Sherman.
Also, let’s not forget “independents” like La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis (now quietly a D) and former La Mesa Councilmember Kristine Alessio.
Tell me those I’m missing!
Updates/Other names received…
- San Diego City Councilmember Monica Montgomery
- Local physician James Veltmeyer, a Republican
- Lemon Grove’s Jones said he has no interest.
- La Mesa’s Alessio said it certainly crossed her mind.
Update 2, Saturday 12/26: A couple of days following the above post, Scott Lewis at Voice of SD writes a detailed piece, fleshing out the list of Democrats…
- LaShae Collins
- Geneviéve Jones-Wright
- Taisha Brown
- Aeiramique Glass Blake
- Steve Padilla
- Dwayne Crenshaw
Update 3, Saturday 12/26:
From Dr. Akilah Weber…
“It is with utmost humility and appreciation that I say it has been a true honor to serve the La Mesa residents as City Councilmember. We have successfully worked together to make La Mesa better. Thank you! After much consideration, I have decided to run for the 79th Assembly seat when it becomes vacant. It would be an honor to represent and serve the residents of this district and continue to ensure that we build a better tomorrow that improves the future for ALL Californians.”
Campa-Najjar spent nearly two-full years bashing what he called “carpet baggers.”
I do think he’ll run for another office and this affords him a chance, but outside the district is he strong enough? He’s lost two straight races and the attacks would be immediate with two points:
Hypocrite as he’s become a carpet bagger.
Carper Bagger because he would be one.
Politically, he’s not done. He’s a natural, especially with the charisma. It’s also likely politics is all he has at the moment, as his work is still a mystery to most.
I also think the party’s willing to give him at least one more shot, but I look for him to move to a more friendly district. Lick his wounds and plan out his next campaign, versus jumping right in without thinking it through.
For this race, I think he’s out.
Mayor Arapostathis is not a registered Democrat, by the way. He’s been unenrolled to a party since 2017.